((Deck 9 Corridor Near Main Engineering Level 1, USS Independence-A))
::Sidney felt like she was floating, her vision was fuzzy. Her mind still trying to process what had happened, she couldn't speak. It would have taken too much concentration. With a thud, she fell to the deck, her arm smearing the blood on the deck as her mind mercifully went blank. The tide had definitely come in...::
::Hearing the Captain collapse, Townson ran back to where she was. Kneeling, she pressed her fingers against her neck to check for a pulse as she continued.::
Townson: Townson to ....... Clack, Lieutenants Shry.........ker, report ...... deck 9 immed.........ly!
::The Fleet Captain moved in and out of consciousness as she lay there, she heard the voices, heard some of the words. Townson's frantic voice, someone kneeling beside her. She moaned lightly as the person beside her stood.::
Riley: Ccccl..... ::The words wouldn't come even though her mind was screaming. It was like she was submerged unable to speak. She continued to fade in and out...::
::The shrill yell broke through the darkness and the muffling gurgling sounds, but the Terran/Deltan couldn't move.::
::Jade dropped to her knees and checked on Riley. Blood was dripping across the floor.::
Shryker: =/\= .......ry...... to ....bay, the Ca....... i........red.=/\= ::to Riley:: Si........ear.....?
Sickbay: =/\= response=/\=
::She was drowning, the words becoming more and more faint as the seconds continued to march by... She was sinking, the light becoming more and more distant.::
Computer: =/\= Warning! Anti-...atter ov......! ..... minutes thir........anti...........ment br......ch! ........ning! ...=/\=
::She gasped for air and then the darkness finally took her completely. Submerged...::
::The air was cool, the wind lightly brushing past the exposed skin on her shoulders as she walked through the grove of trees on the north side of the house. The short flowing sleeves of her long midnight black dress fluttered with the movement. Her eyes shone brightly, her auburn hair glistening, she was sparkling in the darkness, illuminated only by the light of the full moon. The shadows surrounded her, following her like a soft embrace as she continued down the road towards the house. Her bare feet gently walked across the soft dirt and her eyes focused on the moss hanging from the trees above her, a canopy hanging from the sky.::
::She felt calm, at peace. Welcomed home by her surroundings, free of pain, free of worry. Free...::
((Flashback, New Orleans, Louisiana, Earth, 238109.01))
::Boisterous laughter filled the air as the Riley clan celebrated. Music, dance, food, art, socializing, they were all a part of the evening. As the sun began to go down the noise level only got higher.::
Dairine: ::Raising her glass.:: To Sidney Riley, her father would be so proud.
:: A chorus of "here, here" greeted the woman's toast and Sidney couldn't help but blush.::
Patrick: Graduate of Starfleet Academy and everything. You've made us proud Sid.
Rylyn: Here I am, I would have never thought my cousin would show up my accomplishments...
::Rylyn winked at her and Sidney laughed.::
Riley: I don't know what to say but thank you for this.
Dairine: ::Acting offended.:: What are you talking about child? I've never heard something so silly in my life. You're family! No thanks are needed.
::Her younger cousin Brady walked by and tapped her on the shoulder, whispering.::
Brady: Yeah, but ya know she wanted to hear it now...
::Dairine turned to face her youngest son.::
Dairine: You better be glad I didn't hear that Brady...
::The boy blushed and hurried the opposite direction from his mother. Sidney shook her head and noticed Patrick motioning for her to follow him towards the levee. Sidney nodded and smiled at her cousin as they walked together. As they continued to walk it got more and more quiet as they approached the river. Patrick reached up and pulled at his white Roman collar and then tugged at his black jacket.::
Riley: What's wrong?
Patrick: I'm still not used to wearing it.... ::He paused and laughed.:: But I hear it looks good on me... ::He gave her a proud, pleased look.::
::Sidney laughed and shook her head.::
Riley: That is does my friend...still those girls had better be looking somewhere else now hadn't they? ::She motioned gracefully to the collar he now wore.::
Patrick: Ah, but it will break their hearts... ::He laughed jokingly before his expression turned serious.:: I'm going to miss you Sidney, who else am I going to tell my troubles to? And the Ithassa Region, how can you be posted so far away? I can't imagine a time when you weren't here to listen to my ramblings.
Riley: ::Smiling softly.:: We're both setting off on new adventures then. I'll sure miss hearing about all those girls you were chasing after though... ::She laughed and then changed her expression to one of seriousness.:: I will miss you too. You probably know more about me than most...
Patrick: Hmmm....I know what Louis told Sabine about the two of you. ::He gave her a skeptical look.::
::She shook her head.::
Riley: It's all lies...he...expects me to give up everything I am...
::Patrick watched her closely but said nothing.::
Riley: How can I choose? How can I change who I am? How? I can't change who I am any more than you can change who you are for one of the Beauxton girls.
Patrick: I didn't think you could...I just want you to know it will be okay.
::They reached the levee and Sidney let her gaze fall out over the calm muddy waters of the Mississippi River.::
Riley: Thank you... ::She wrinkled her nose and laughed, shrugging.:: Who knows what I'll find out there in the Ithassa Region....
Patrick: Someone who can match you in your stength and personality Sidney Riley...I'm sure of it...
::Reaching the end of the road, coming around the house, she approached the back porch. She slowly walked up the steps, gracefully, each one deliberately with care. One foot in front of the other, she turned, her eyes fixated on the levee in front of her. She stared for a moment and then closed her eyes, taking in the darkness. After a moment, she let the light into her soul as she stepped forward to the wrought iron railing. She ran her hand along the fleur-de-lis softly, caressing the wrought iron.::
::In the distance a raptor's cry. Shrill against the quiet landscape. She leaned forward looking for the bird of prey, but couldn't see it. Moving lightly, she walked down the steps and across the dew laden grass to the large willow tree which stood near the levee.::
::She stood beneath the comforting branches, encased in leaves like a warm protective hug. She closed her eyes and upon opening them found herself surrounded by an array of colorful butterflies, small ones, large ones, medium size ones. All the colors of the rainbow, fluttered around her in an intricate dance, landing on her arms and her hair. They were striking against the black dress, their colors full of life, full of promise. The Terran/Deltan laughed brightly as the insects gravitated towards her in their flight. Moving lightly she twirled around gracefully dancing among the rainbow, her laughter light and free and growing with intensity.::
::Suddenly, a flash of lightening in the sky! A crack of thunder! The butterflies were gone and Sidney was standing in the shallow water of the Mississippi River, bathed in moonlight. The midnight black of the dress she wore seemed to sparkle, her eyes were determined, her breath even. The wind swirled around her violently, but she didn't move. The violent dance around her continued and she held herself with the confidence gained from all her years, from all the experiences she ever had. Swirling around her in the wind, moving through her being, all the pain, all the heartache, all the love, all the laughter...breathing everything in...::
::Another cry in the distance, loud and shrill. She looked up her bright green eyes piercing as they focused on the Eagle flying above her. A small smile crept across her features. For the first time in years, she was....::
Fleet Captain Sidney Riley
[Round 17] Fleet Captain Sidney Riley: Metamorphosis
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